writing


Listening to: “Another World” – Antony & the Johnsons

Greetings from the heart of the Northeastern Seaboard’s Neverending Blizzard ’08! It’s already put me on postpone for 2 plays this weekend–luckily rescheduling is set to occur. Can’t afford to miss out on writing assignments this month. You know that old carol “Christmas is coming, the goose is getting fat, etc. etc.”? Yeah, I’m the one who hasn’t got a ha’penny and needs some god-blessing.

Still, I think I’ll always have a Pavlovian joy response to snow days, even when I’ve got no work or school from which to play hooky. Last night Tuck and I holed up at Ryan and Rog’s and watched Mad Men and had Schnapps-spiked hot cocoa, while the snow piled up in drifts over Brookline. The mutt definitely digs the snow–sometimes it even makes him forget his debilitating fear of the Green Line–all old smells covered up, fluffy whiteness belly-high, and the whole world fresh and up for grabs. He leap-runs through deep snow in winter the same way he does through the tide in the summer when I bring him to the beach. I wonder what the beaches must look like now–totally surreal, no doubt. You never really see the image of snow falling on ocean waves.

Today out my bedroom window I saw a scrawny guy standing in a full Santa suit on the sidewalk, just chillin’. A girl walks up to him and–I shit you not–sticks her hand down his woolly red pants. And we’re talking deep–like, grab-the-dude’s-dick-and-flail-it-around-a-bit deep. Santa didn’t seem particularly aroused, but it was hard to read the eyes buried between the beard and hat. I’m telling you man, only in Allston.

Alright, time to go dig out the ol’ car so I can get to Cafenation and get some actual productive freaking writing done. I’ll leave you with an image of what I wish I were doing this fine, snowy evening:

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Listening to: “Time to Pretend” – MGMT

Phew, finally got a bit of a reprieve from this crazy carnival ride called Having Three Jobs. Praise be to the theater gods for a slow weekend.

Though I shouldn’t count my chickens yet–it’s not people with oodles of free time who are still at their offices at quarter to seven on a Thursday night. So I got some more shit to do. Yeah. Go fuck yerself.

Ah sorry, dear reader. I don’t mean you. I mean other you.

I think I’ve finally had something of a breakthrough vis-a-vis “The Price of Rootlessness.” Finally got an end of the road in mind for ol’ Charlie and Scats. It was an idea I had awhile ago, but thought was too stupid to make work. But I think it might just be stupid enough to be the best line to follow. Now I just gotta write the fucking thing.

Midnight’s Children has made me feel like it’s OK to work on a wide canvas. Rushdie was but a humble adman working in London when he was writing what would become The Great Indian Novel. When it comes to fiction, there ought to be no such thing as hubris (in the drafting stage, anyway).

My preoccupation with comic book autobiographies continues–I just polished off Fun Home by Alison Bechdel. A highly literate, layered, melancholy, funny little thing. Probably won’t have the staying power of Persepolis, but it’s pretty great shit. I usually don’t like reading autobiographies all that much (Another Bullshit Night in Suck City and A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius aside), but there’s something about the genre in graphic form that seems so right.

I think it has something to do with the fact that life is messy, memory is never linear, and the combination of pictures and words allows for much more tangents. “Wheels within wheels,” like Lethem says in Motherless Brooklyn.

As for my own story, and all those who keep asking me what’s up next: I’m working on it. Sometimes everything gets so crumpled together, all you can manage is a day at a time. I’ll adopt the long view when I get the chance.

Listening to: “Cliquot” – Beirut

Hello, ol’ bloggy ol’ blog ol’ bloggy. Noogies! Flecasfksf;lh. I’m tired and hungover–too tired to sleep, and should not be trusted with a keyboard in such a state. But yar, maties, what be this thing on which I’m typing?

Lessee. it’s been awhile, I suppose, partly because the last few weeks I’ve been trying to do some actual writing. Working on a new story, the direction of which changes with the wind. Maybe it’d help if I gave the characters names. I’ve got a title though–“The Price of Rootlessness.” (from a line in Angels in America: “The price of rootlessness, motion sickness. Only cure: Keep moving.“) It started in one of those sudden, feverish, questionable flurries of writing. This one came upon me riding the T back home from a particularly bland thingee thing I had to see for work.

That churned out two pages-ish, and I’ve been taking notes on it since. I tried to write another scene and, rereading it all, I began to worry that I had fallen prey to what Flaubert called in one of his letters, “these masked balls of the imagination, from which one returns with death in the heart, exhausted, having seen nothing but falsity and uttered nothing but nonsense.

Anyway, we’ll see how it turns out. I’m tempted to yet again strike off in the magical realist direction that I love so well, but that is probably best left in the hands of the masters.

But like my ol’ editor told me today at a barbeque, if you’re too hard on yourself, you’ll cancel it out before it starts. And anyway, Flaubert spent his whole life beating the shit out of himself over his writing, seeking detachment and perfection. Maybe not the best role model for me.

Between reading Persepolis and Watchmen recently, I’m really starting to think about writing something in graphic novel form. Such a cool medium. If only my drawing muscles weren’t all outta practice. Must stretch. Also, reading a book about the myths of the world I got off the dollar rack at the Brookline Booksmith. The Icelandic myths are the tits. A one-eyed king of the gods? A queen of the underworld who’s half-woman, half-corpse? And best of all, Ragnarok, a swords-n-blood apocalypse that makes every other apocalypse look totally lame? Tits.

What else, what else… went camping two weekends ago in the Mahoosucs with a friend and the dog. Disaster ensued when we followed what we thought was a path, but turned out to be a boundary line that led us through dense underbrush up a mountainside in the dark. Had to set up camp where we could, the wind howling off the fucking summit all night. We made it out alive, though, albeit coated in scrapes and mosquito bites, and even a tick or three. Tucker took it like a trooper. It was an adventure, I’ll give it that. And it was beautiful out there. Here’s Tuck at Dryad Falls, contemplating the view of the Whites to the south:

But get this, get this: the mountain was called… Mount Success! Oh, thou soul-crushing irony, take my soul for the crushing!

It’s funny how you can crave wilderness, but the second you’re up on a mountain in the dark with no place to make a fire, all you want is to land smack-dab in the middle of Times Square. Deep in our primordial scared-ass caveman guts, we just want light and warmth, I suppose. And maybe a mammoth-beatin’ stick. Take that, mammoth!

Listening to: “The State I Am In” – Belle & Sebastian

So my one-act play, Thanksgiving, has officially been rejected by two theater conferences. I know, I know, only two. “But say, my friend,” you’ll say [you general you], “Tons of brilliant writers get rejected 30 gazijabillion times before they get accepted. And they’ve all gone on to have fabulously successful careers and dive in pools full of champagne and gigolos!”

“First of all, You,” I’ll reply, “A gazijabillion is not a real number, so I don’t trust your rational judgment outright.” *Takes drag from metaphorical cigarette* “Second of all, You, it is true that tons of brilliant writers get rejected a lot. But tons upon tons upon eons of pretty crappy writers get rejected a lot, too. The brilliant ones and the crappy ones have both got giant balls for continuing to submit their rejected stuff. But how do you know till you’ve been accepted if you’re shitty or a miracle? Or, worse, just totally mediocre? You see, You, how difficult it can be?” *Takes drag from non-metaphorical joint*

The point of that diatribe being, I don’t think I have the stones to keep on submitting Thanksgiving. It might be time to put my little Durangy baby to rest. ‘Course, this is the same thing I did a few years ago when my short story, Jellyfish, got rejected by two literary magazines. Two seems to be my magic number, eh?

And by magic, I mean poop.

Oh, moose balls. Time to pick myself up by the thong straps, or whatever.

Listening to: “The Lonesome Death of Hattie Carroll” – Bob Dylan

Talk about yer misnomers. “Wintry mix?” What is this weather, a delightful tossed salad with a few rutabagas tossed in for seasonal flair? A delightful mix tape to listen to on the Solstice? No. No. “Wintry mix” should be called “assy hell.” “Assy hell” would be vastly more appropriate to describe March snain careening at your face as you come up from the subway into the windy gloom of Dewey Square.

I know I haven’t written in awhile, as I have been both busy and traveling. My job sent me to New York and Philadelphia, to chat up our teams of writers there. It was good times.

In Philly, I saw the greatest drag show ever at a dive bar called Bob & Barbara’s on South Street, which included a variety of glitzy queens, a stripper dangling his barely-sheathed cock along a drunken birthday girl’s face, and hunky bartenders in Speedos serving up the “special”—PBR and a shot of Jim Beam in a tiny plastic cup. I sat on a bench in Rittenhouse Square and ate street-cart cheesesteak.

A sick but kind-looking man with a bag of medications and the lump of a catheter underneath his jacket asked me for train fare. He said he’d just been released from the hospital after kidney surgery, needed to get back Lancaster, and his car had been booted. He said he had HIV and he’d asked fellow black gay men for help and none of them would help. “My own people,” he said. He could have been scamming me, but I honestly don’t think he was. I gave him $2.50. His image sticks with me.

I stayed alone in a Westin, all expenses paid. It was my first time alone in an honest-to-god hotel room. I’ve been alone in sketchy hostels plenty of times (although you’re never really alone in hostels), but never in a nice hotel room. I started laughing when I walked inside, bounced on the huge white bed, spent twenty minutes examining the minibar, the “refreshment” drawer, the dual-headed shower head, the bathrobe, the Gideon’s bible, the view into the shopping court below. I realized I could’ve done anything in there, and no one would know. It was all about discretion. I felt like I ought to order myself a fancy hooker and a room service feast.

In New York, I spent most of the weekend wandering around Williamsburg with Rachel. We walked down to the East River, where real estate junkies had suddenly realized they could build condos that looked out on a perfect view of the Manhattan skyline. At the moment, it’s a big stretch of flattened grass. We stopped in a garden variety of trendy restaurants and bars and stretched out the day with wine and beer. I think if I move there eventually, Tucker will be alright. Lots of dogs, lots of green spaces.

And back in Boston now, busier than ever, wasting time that I don’t have on this blog. I saw My Name is Rachel Corrie a few weeks ago at the New Rep, and it’s really stuck with me. Not just in that it made me want to look further into the Israel-Palestine awfulness, but that Rachel Corrie was a very good writer. Also, that she really dedicated herself to changing the world as best she could and as best she understood it.

The part of the night that really sent me over the edge, though, was that Rachel Corrie’s actual parents were there. They joined in the talkback after the show, and the actress who played Rachel sat next to them, looking at them in awe, red-eyed, humbled.

I started reading her journals this week. She kept them for years–these go from when she was ten right up until her death by Israeli bulldozer in Gaza in 2003 when she was 23. Though some of it is very teen-angsty (albeit extremely articulate teen angst), a lot of what she wrote really feels like I’m hearing someone else rephrasing my own thoughts. If she hadn’t ended up becoming an accidental martyr, I think she could have gone on to be a very fine author.

Written when she was 18:

“I think my soul is nomadic. I’ve always stared upward at airplanes cutting white paths through the sky and wondered where they’re going. I’ve always turned my head a little to listen out of one ear to the people speaking in Spanish behind me on the bus. I’ve always stayed awake all night on the log silent car rides across Montana and Wyoming, watching the muscles of hills in the moonlight, watching the lights of small towns fade into darkness behind me, watching the infinite bald stripe of highway connect eastern horizons to western horizons. I’ve always been jealous of migratory birds.”

Which, in turn, makes me think of Angels in America:

“The oboe. The official instrument of the Order of Travel Agents. If the duck was a song bird, it would sound like this: nasal, desolate, the call of migratory things.”

O, pity us poor, poor privileged white folk, trying to do good in the world and always sinking back into useless self-reflection.

…..you got that that was sarcastic, right?

PS: You all failed my movie quotes quiz by not answering it. Failed. Shame. Shame heaped upon your heads. Tangental pseudo-religious shame.